Thanksgiving Day Stuffing
The Green Bay Packers gave Cheeseheads a Thanksgiving Day treat by handing the Detroit Lions a 34 – 12 stuffing. The surging Packers thus won their third game in the last twelve days and improved their season record to 7 – 4. The Packers now have a “mini” bye week, not having to play again until Monday, December 7, when they host the Baltimore Ravens. The win against the Lions puts the Pack squarely into the chase for a wild card playoff spot.
The game had an ominous beginning when Jordy Nelson fumbled the opening kick-off which led to a quick touchdown for the Lions. But as the first half started to unfold it was the much-maligned Packer offensive line that took control of the game. This shocking turn of events allowed Aaron Rodgers and Company to get rolling. Although the halftime score had the Packers leading by only 13 – 7, one could sense that the Packers were not going to let this game slip away.
In the second half Rodgers hit Donald Driver for a touchdown pass which sealed the fate of this game. Rodgers had a monster game ending up with three touchdowns and almost 350 yards of aerial yardage. Driver was the recipient of seven passes for 142 yards as he and the rest of the Packer receiving crew easily disengaged from the talent-starved Detroit defenders.
Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers had to tune up his defense this week after the loss of Al Harris and Aaron Kampman. The adjustments worked. Linebacker A. J. Hawk stepped up his game as did fellow linebacker Nick Barnett . B. J. Raji keeps getting better each week, but the best performer on the day by far was Charles Woodson. For the third week in a row Woodson had an incredible performance. He nearly shut down the Lions’ best player, receiver Calvin Johnson. His numbers on the day were 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions (one run back for a touchdown), 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovered. He may be the best defensive player in the NFL right now.
The clinker in this game was the poor performance by the Packers’ special teams. They contributed 3 penalties, 1 fumble and 1 missed field goal. Two of the three penalties were obviously stupid mistakes, the same kind that have been repeated over and over this year. This group is particularly undisciplined which reflects very poorly on Special Teams Coordinator, Shawn Slocum. At this stage of the year it probably is too late to fire Slocum, but he deserves it.
The Packers get a well-deserved rest now for a couple extra days to heal and prepare for the final stretch of the season. Looking at the schedule, it would appear that three and possibly four wins might be squeezed out of their final five games. The good news is that following the debacle in Tampa Bay both the offense and defense have improved. A win against the Ravens will make things very interesting with even another shot at Benedict Favre possible in the post season.